Home' Australian Yoga Life : sample issue Contents australian yoga life • december-february 2010
advice on deepening one's practice: think about what you are
doing ... practice ... read to acquire more knowledge ... and
devote yourself to understanding what you are doing and how
it should be done. "You have to do your homework too," he
prompts. "In the yoga sutra, it is called Svaadhyaaya (self
study). This is also very important."
The example Sharath offers is that the teacher may teach
the philosophy of yoga but it is the student's duty to think
about it, and to think about how to connect with it and gain a
proper understanding of the system. "You need to put in effort
and you need to think about it," he reiterates.
With yoga, in a myriad of forms and styles, being taught
in gyms and fitness centres across Australia, I was interested in
whether Sharath thinks it is losing something of its essence.
"Yes, of course," he replies, without hesitation. "The meaning
of yoga will change. Yoga is not like lifting weights, or doing
aerobics; it's not just exercise. What we do is not external
exercise, though it looks external. It's a spiritual practice and
you should create an environment that is appropriate."
Similarly, Sharath's views on the use of social media, DVDs,
or books as a means of learning yoga are firm. "I think if you just
watch TV or video, in practice you get only limited knowledge. It
is very important for people watching videos or studying books
to know it is impossible to learn yoga properly this way. Yoga has
a system and it has to come through your guru, through the
lineage. Yoga has come from thousands of years, guru to student,
and that is how it has been passed on to the generations."
SHARATH AGREES THAT YOGA HAS CHANGED IN THE PAST SEVERAL
years and views these changes as both good and bad. Though he
doesn't expand on these aspects, the impression is that yoga's
growth and popularity -- it's enmeshment into mainstream
Western society -- offers a mixed bag.
Sharath focuses on what he has been taught and what he
now embodies -- the necessity for practice and the value of the
teacher/student relationship as the heart of spiritual progression.
"If you go to a teacher and spend time with your teacher, I think
the knowledge will be very strong in you and the understanding
of yoga and the system is much stronger," he says.
In terms of Sharath's future, he divulges that a biography
on his beloved grandfather will come from him, 'in two or three
years'. He tells too that, through the Pattabhi Jois Charitable
Trust, he has plans for an old-age home in Mysore.
Sharath also reveals that he has all kinds of students
-- healthy, sick, physically motivated, Indian, Asian, and
Western -- but that nearly all of them hunger for spirituality
and knowledge. And when talk drifts to science and yoga, he
demonstrates why he is the Ashtanga lineage's next guru in the
making: "Scientifically, many people have proven that yoga is
very good for health reasons and for spiritual reasons. There
can't be anything wrong with yoga at all," he beams. "It's just
Peggy Hailstone is a Melbourne freelance writer and a
(currently non-practising) yoga teacher. She can be
contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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